I have two favourite things. Wine and travel. When I can, I try to combine the two for epic weekends spent enjoying some of the world’s best wines. Luckily, some of my favourite wineries are only a short drive away in the Niagara Peninsula wine country. People often ask me about my favourite wineries and the truth is depending on the time of year and how I feel that day, my favourites shift and change like the seasons. Luckily for me, Wine Country Ontario has just released its Travel Guide 2016 for Prince Edward County, Lake Erie North Shore, the Emerging Regions, the Niagara Escarpment & Twenty Valley and my home away from home, Niagara-on-the-Lake. Read on for more on the 2016 Travel Guide, my recommendations and the chance to win a wine lover’s picnic basket from Wine Country Ontario and VQA Wines of Ontario.
Travel Guide 2016
To pick up your own copy of the Travel Guide 2016 head over to you local LCBO and pick up the most recent Food and Drink magazine or download it here. The Travel Guide contains 93 pages full of info on the best and newest wineries to visit this summer and throughout the year.
People are always surprised when one of my first recommended places to visit is Ontario’s wine country but the reality is that you don’t need to fly to another coast to experience a day on a winery or find new and exciting wines. With the state of the Canadian dollar, this is the perfect summer to eat, drink and live local and wine country is a great starting point.
My Recommendations for Niagara Peninsula Wine Country
Ontario Wine Country is divided by appellations or in simpler terms geographical areas. These areas are defined by factors like climate, weather, and soil composition which all create different styles and flavour profiles in each bottle of wine. My go to appellation is the Niagara Peninsula which encompasses both the Niagara Escarpment and Niagara-On-The-Lake. I remember the very first time I visited Niagara-On-The-Lake as an adult and the pure joy I found in the restaurants, inns and wines that awaited me. Now, I travel to the area frequently with and without my kids. Here are my don’t miss spots for this summer.
Two Sisters Vineyards
Two Sisters Vineyards is by far one of my favourite wineries to visit. You will see why as soon as you arrive on the property. With over 76 gorgeously tended acres of land, the winery and the main building are stunning. Throw in lunch at onsite restaurant Kitchen 76 which serves incredible food but invites guests to be casually dressed and its the perfect stop on any vineyard tour. As I sip from the selections of wine, I like to dream of winning the lottery with my sister and buying the vineyard from the two sisters who actually own it. So far that dream has not actually come to fruition.
I personally like to visit Stratus for what may not be seen as the usual reason to visit a winery. Frankly, I think the building looks cool. I love the modern touches, floor to ceiling glass windows and overall vibe of the winery. Until I picked up the Wine Country Ontario Travel Guide 2016, I actually had no idea that the winery was known for being the first fully LEED-certified winery in the world. Add in Stratus’ sustainability practices and this stop is a necessity.
Peller Estates Winery
One of the bigger wineries that I love to visit is Peller Estates Winery. Located in Niagara-On-The-Lake, this is a common stop on winery tours and can be quite busy. Still, there are lots of reasons to visit. There is plenty of room to roam the property and see the facilities in which the wine is made. Add-ons like chef Jason Parsons’ fun creations like ice wine marshmallows for roasting help make this one of my favourite stops.
Back 10 Cellars
I discovered Back 10 Cellars at a wine festival and immediately fell in love with their wines. As the owner of the small 10-acre vineyard stood in the small booth and explained his techniques to the crowd, his enthusiasm for his wine was infectious. Back 10 Cellars’ wines are not available at the LCBO making this a definite stop to try something you may not find closer to home. My favourite indulgence is the 2015 Smitten Sparkling.
Fielding Estate Winery
Fielding Estate Winery is located on the Beamsville Bench amongst a handful of other wineries. The staff at this winery make it worth visiting as they are always happy to see you and extremely welcoming. The wines are matched by a great selection of gifts for wine enthusiasts and the views over the grapes are stunning. Only open since 2005, Fielding Estate Winery has been named on of Canada’s Top 10 Wineries twice and Curtis Fielding was named Grape Grower of the Year in 2012-2013.
Ready for Some Wine?
My friends at Wine Country Ontario and VQA Wines of Ontario have put together a perfect picnic giveaway complete with a soft blanket, wine opener, glasses and a bottle of wine. Enter here to win before the contest ends on May 31, 2016 and make sure to check out the Wine Country Ontario Travel Guide 2016.